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Through the Lens of Systems Thinking: Operation Bagration and the Insights on Contemporary Operational Art

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Technical Report,25 Jun 2018,23 May 2019

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US Army Command and General Staff College Fort Leavenworth United States

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During the interwar period, the Soviet Union witnessed an intellectual revolution that created new patterns of thought and changed the paradigm of how the Red Army approached warfare. Being the first to theorize, define, and codify operational art, Soviet military theorists replaced the concepts of annihilation and attrition by that of operational maneuver to create operational shock. In June 1944, during Operation Bagration, the Red Army put its theory into practice and was able to inflict a catastrophic defeat on Germanys Army Group Center. Given the fact that US Army shifted its focus to large-scale combat operations against peer and near-peer adversaries, this monograph argues that analyzing the Soviet operational art, in theory and application from a systems perspective, can give military planners insight into the nature and practice of contemporary operational art. The monograph will address five core questions How did systems thinking and operational consciousness constitute the cognitive forces behind the Soviet paradigm shift How do systems theory and the principles of chaos and complexity feed into the concept of operational shock How did the Soviet conduct of Operation Bagration reflect the core principles of systems logic How do systems thinking and operational shock fit within contemporary large-scale combat operations Finally, what insights do they provide on contemporary operational art Today, US peer adversaries approach war in the same way the Soviets did during WWII. They have already acknowledged that winning wars does not necessarily require annihilating the enemys operational forces. To win is to shock and paralyze the rival system, deprive it of its purpose, and neutralize its will to fight.

Subject Categories:

  • Military Forces and Organizations
  • Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics

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